Tag Archives: DCAO Mark Amorosi

The Farbridge Fallout: 10 years of a toxic administration leaves an enduring legacy

By Gerry Barker

August 6, 2016

Like most people in Guelph, we are beginning to understand the underground story of financial failure, secrecy and wasteful spending that is slowly emerging following eight years of a Farbridge administration. It is a litany of abuse of the public trust by the majority of elected officials. We have endured an administration riddled with absurd decisions and too much influence over those elected and entrusted with the people’s interests.

We are now witnessing the denuding of senior staff that shares responsibility for spending millions of public money with compliance of the former mayor’s majority of council.

Gone is Chief Administrative Officer (CAO), Ann Pappert; Executive Director of Waste Management and Environmental Services, Janet Laird; Executive Director of Operations Derek McCaughan; Former Chief Financial Officer (CFO) Al Horsman; Former General Manager of Finance and Treasurer, Janice Sheehy; former manager of Finance (pre Horsman), Susan Arum; Chief Building Inspector, Bruce Poole, now suing the city for wrongful dismissal; former Police Chief Bryan Larkin who played a major role in selling the $34.1 million police headquarters renovation along with former Mayor Farbridge and Coun. Leanne Piper.

Rising from the wreckage is CAO Derrick Thomson, former Deputy Chief Administrative Officer, (DCAO), of Operations; General Manager of Culture and Tourism, Colleen Clack who takes over Thomson’s job as DCAO of Operations including Guelph Transit; Finance department analyst, Tara Baker, recently named Chief Financial Officer, General Manager, Finance and Treasurer. She does not assume the job until next year.

This is another example of moving people up whose experience or accreditation may not match their new responsibilities. Ms. Baker was selected even after the city used a headhunter to conduct a search for a CFO.

There is one senior employee who remains post 2014. Mark Amorosi has responsibility for human resources and city finances as DCAO of Corporate Services.

This situation, in which continuity and responsibility that Mr. Amorosi has artfully engineered, is by reaching in-house and ignoring a professional search. We still paid for it. Since his employment in 2008, he has been the architect of building a bloated bureaucracy that has increased in terms of full-time employees to more than 2,100 from 1,500. He is in charge of all personnel and their issues including salaries, wages and benefits. The city staff is now 80 per cent unionized. And, more than 80 per cent of all property taxes are used to pay the staf.

Staff morale is at an all-time low

The staff has reached the depths of low morale but most hang on because of the money and benefits. Working for the city or the University of Guelph provides above average pay, benefits and job security. But many staffers say it’s a lousy place to work because of a senior management that is erratic, lacks empathy and consistently changes the work plan.

Amorosi, in his unique position of power, also looked after himself and fellow senior staff with those unearned 2015 salary increases for the CAO and three fellow DCAO’s. Those increases ranged from 14 to 19 per cent and the people who paid them were never informed. That is not until the provincial Sunshine List of public servants earning more than $100,000 was released last March.

Talk about a sneaky attack on the public purse. It makes the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbour almost saintly by comparison. The Yanks at least knew what was happening in that day of infamy. Citizens were not informed about those increases until months after council approved the deal, in closed session.

What does it take to rid our administration of this individual who has been the author and executor of the city’s declining financial capacity? It is now apparent that Amorosi was picked to meet her objectives by Farbridge as her got-to guy to steer her now misguided and failed vision of Guelph.

In order to accomplish those Farbridge goals, and polices, procedural bylaws were passed by her majority of council supporters. She banned any revelation of what was discussed in closed sessions of council known as “in camera” meetings.

A Code of Conduct that would allow the mayor to censure any councillor who spoke out of line following an “in camera” proceeding, backed up the procedural bylaw. In 2010, the Farbridge council appointed an Integrity Commission whose function was to adjudicate alleged breaches of the Code of Conduct by any member of city council.

There were two such actions sent to the Integrity Commissioner. One was against then Ward Four Councillor, now Mayor Cam Guthrie, who along with a minority of councillors threatened to demand a public document that was refused by the staff. The other was against former Councillor Maggi Laidlaw accused of being belligerent with staff during a committee meeting.

Integrity Commissioner gets another five-year contract

The Integrity Commissioner’s report of both cases did not sanction either party. His bill was more than $10,000. The Integrity Commissioner was awarded another five-year term last March with an annual retainer of $5,000 plus an hourly rate when he was engaged.

That contract was approved in another “in camera” session and details were never revealed. It is another example of the public interest being blocked.

When the former mayor organized the Guelph Municipal Holdings Inc. (GMHI), she appointed herself as chairperson and four members of council to hold a majority. The Chief Executive Officer of Guelph Hydro and two Farbridge-appointed independents completed the board of directors. Newly appointed CAO Ann Pappert was named Chief Executive Officer. So there is no doubt about the tight link between the City Corporation and GHMI.

For five years, GMHI conducted its meetings in private session, beyond public access or transparency. In all those years, not one councillor who sat on the GMHI board said anything about what GMHI was doing.

And what they were doing was spending some $37.1 million on developing a District Energy plan that included connecting two Nodes (natural gas fired pumps) to a small number of nearby buildings to supply hot and cold water.

The trouble was that $37.1 million wasn’t enough to make the system function. The Nodes were located in the Sleeman Centre and the Hanlon Creek Business Park. A staff report July 18, 2016, detailed the financing of these projects and stated that it was badly planned and executed and required another $60 million to make it work and meet the original objective.

Spending more money on a failed project

GuelphSpeaks has written extensively about this situation and those posts may be found in the blog archives.

Council, on a staff recommendation, hired Deloitte as consultants to advise them what to do next. Council chose to continue the operation until March 2017. Supporting that motion was the Bloc of Seven Farbridge supporters on council plus Coun. Bob Bell. Deloitte’s bill will range between $130,000 and $160,000.

The only way to stop this growing financial disaster is to complain to the Ombudsman of Ontario regarding all those closed meetings held over six years conducted by GMHI, a wholly owned corporation of the City of Guelph.

If just four residents of Oshawa can complain about its council meeting conducted in camera to discuss the sale of its Hydro, it should not take much to ask for an Ombudsman staff investigation.

Here is an extract of how to complain. I’m sending one in, how about you?

Here are your Ombudsman choices

Have you already tried to resolve your problem with the organization’s complaint procedures? If you aren’t sure what options are available, you can speak to the organization directly or the Ombudsman’s staff can assist you.

Note – Yes, several times to no avail. GuelphSpeaks received one annual report (2014) that showed Guelph Municipal Holdings Inc. a wholly owned city corporation that included Guelph Hydro losing $2.8 million.

The Ombudsman can investigate complaints about municipalities and universities as of January 1, 2016.

Note – Guelph citizens can now make a complaint.

Fill in an online complaint form (for other options, see below).
It is also helpful to:

*  Get the names and titles of the people you have dealt with at the government or public sector body;

  • Keep track of the dates of your contact with them;
  • Keep all written communication relating to your complaint.

Note: Citizens were not informed of what was occurring during the five years the city was operating a separate corporation that was making decisions with no accountability, transparency or public input.

Submit a complaint online

Please note that we do not accept complaints through Twitter, Facebook, or any other third-party platforms.
Telephone  Our complaints staff is available 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. You may also leave a voice message outside of office hours. Toll-free (inside Ontario only): 1-800-263-1830

Calls with our Office may be recorded for quality assurance and training purposes and/or to ensure an accurate and exact record.

Email:  
info@ombudsman.on.ca

Fax:    416-586-3485

Mail:    Print our complaint form (PDF)
Office of the Ombudsman of Ontario
Bell Trinity Square
483 Bay Street, 10th Floor, South Tower
Toronto, ON
M5G 2C9

In person:  An appointment is recommended for in-person (walk-in) complaints. Please call 1-800-263-1830 to schedule an appointment.
The office is located at 483 Bay Street, (Bell Trinity Square, 10th Floor, South Tower), Toronto. Office hours are from Monday to Friday, 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.

Review our Frequently Asked Questions. Or call 1-800-263-1-830 during office hours to speak to Ombudsman staff.

 

Please note:

If you want to complain about the closed-door operations of both the city and GMHI, try to include names and dates of staff or councillor conversations with whom you questioned plus their replies.

A starting point is requesting copies of the minutes of all those GMHI meetings, dates, names and motions. The source is the city clerk’s office.

If you need advice completing your complaint, please send me an email at gerrybaker76@gmail.com. Identification is a requirement. GB
 

 

 

 

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Filed under Between the Lines

Questions Guelph citizens should be asking about Salary-Gate

By Gerry Barker

Posting #776 – May 26, 2016

GUELPH SPEAKS

NEWS FLASH

CAO Ann Pappert is leaving her Chief Administrative Officer position

Ann Pappert tendered her resignation today in the wake of performance issues and public reaction. She is prepared to stay on to facilitate a smooth turn over of her responsibilities to her successor. Her contract ends in October.

It is not known at this time what her plans are.

She is the second senior officer of the city staff to leave in the past few days. Deputy Chief Administration Officer(DCAI), Derrick Thomson, resigned and that leaves just DCAO Mark Amorosi, remaining of the senior staff members hired by the former Farbridge administration. DCAO Scott Stewart, was only hired last December.

To replace Ms. Pappert will take some months as the city restructures its senior management..

The current post continous

We recently learned that in a closed-session last October 13, members of council were asked to rate the performance of Chief Administrative Officer, Ann Pappert. An independent consultant tallied the responses of the 13-member council. It was reported that the CAO’s performance failed to have the support of council. The result, according to the consultant, did not warrant any increase in salary for the CAO. It is important to note that Ms. Pappert was not present at the meeting.

What allegedly followed was a series of recriminations by certain councillors over what they had just collectively stated, therefore there should be no raise. Expressions of remorse including “maybe we were too tough on her” were made, again in closed session.

On December 9, in closed-session, council voted to increase the CAO’s salary by $37,581 for 2015.

Now we learn that the CAO has hired a lawyer, a specialist in human resources cases who will only negotiate with city lawyers. Negotiate what? Ms. Pappert’s exit?

This has become known as “Salary-Gate,” the abuse of power by the administration. It is a clear example of a council exhibiting its arrogance and lack of resolve by supporting this outrageous increase. The thought of renewing this individual’s more than $257,000 contract is a chilling prospect in view of her well documented performance over five years.

Some unanswered questions

QUESTION: Who voted for this increase conducted in closed session?

QUESTION: Did the Mayor vote to pay Ms. Pappert the $37,581 salary increase December 9?

QUESTION: Why was the CAO’s 2015 salary increase stalled until December 9, 2015?

QUESTION: Who determined the amount of the increase?

QUESTION: When and how was that amount calculated?

The Human Resources department, headed by Deputy Chief Administrative Officer (DCAO), Mark Amorosi, normally recommends salary increases based on research comparing rates for similar jobs in other municipalities. His boss is CAO Pappert.

QUESTION: Is this not a conflict of interest?

QUESTION: What about the increases given to the three DCAO’s, Mark Amorosi, Al Horsman and Derrick Thomson? The latter two have left the city.

QUESTION: When were they approved and who decided the amount of their substantial increases?

QUESTION: Why is the senior staff involved at all setting their own salary increases?

QUESTION: Why are these details conducted in closed-session?

These four senior managers of the corporation are public servants and the public has the right to know the details of negotiations.

QUESTION: Why has Mayor Cam Guthrie gone to great lengths to support his CAO despite the outcome of the council rejection of any increase for Ms. Pappert, October 13, 2015?

QUESTION: Why did DCAO Mark Amorosi state that the reason the CAO got the raise was because she did not get one in 2014 and she did not request one?

QUESTION: Was the CAO told not to request an increase in the 2014 election year?

QUESTION: Is it possible that former Mayor Karen Farbridge is advising the seven members of the Orange Crush on council to block reform of her failed policies, including awarding excessive executive salary increases?

QUESTION: Were there promises made in the dying days of the Farbridge term to reward her trusted senior staff?

QUESTION: Is there any recourse by citizens to stop the waste of public money and deliberate obstructionism by the Orange Crush majority on council?

In Ontario, there is little citizens can do to recall errant public servants and elected officials, short of being convicted of robbing a bank. In this case, the four executives were in charge of the bank.

This action by the majority of council is reprehensible and a dereliction of their sworn duty toward the citizens of the city.

Why did council not tell us about the salary increases?

In particular, it was a secretive, duplicitous action that only came to light when the provincial Sunshine List of public employees earning more than $100,000 was released in March this year, almost four months after the fact.

Most disturbing is the action of Mayor Guthrie, who has repeatedly avoided involvement in confrontational events requiring his leadership. Earning a resounding victory in October 2014, Mayor Guthrie has failed to follow through on his promises to make a “Better Guelph.” Instead he has squandered obvious opportunities to fulfill his mandate.

His ability to provide leadership of this city is needed more than ever. As time goes by, it is making him less relevant as a mayor and politician. It didn’t have to be that way because there were resources to assist him to overcome the Farbridge stranglehold on city operations.

Instead, he denigrated citizens who objected to the performance of his CAO by summarily dismissing any suggestion that she lacked the ability to do the job. He even threatened one citizen with legal action. That threat disappeared quickly due to the public reaction.

He has been quoted saying that he is receiving calls from mayors and reporters from all over Canada asking how does he do it, what was his secret?

Do what?

This isn’t about selling insurance, big guy; it’s about integrity, toughness and keeping your word. All three of those attributes of your Posting #776leadership are MIA – Missing in Action.

In the meantime, contact your councillor to let them know of you displeasure over this salary case and other serious mismanagement of city finances and operations. There is no shortage of material.

It didn’t have to be this way.

Here is the Council contact list:

Mayor            Cam Guthrie              mayor@guelph.ca                         519 837 4643

WARD 1

Coun. Dan Gibson                            dan.gibson@guelph.ca                 519 822 1260 Ext 2502

Coun. Bob Bell                                 bob.bell@guelph.ca                        519 803 5543

WARD 2

Coun. Andy Van Hellemond       andy.vanhellemond@guelph.ca   519 822 1260 Ext 2503

Coun. James Gordon                   james.gordon@guelph.ca               519 822 1260 Ext 2504

WARD 3

Coun. Phil Allt                              phil.allt@guelph.ca                          519 822 1260 Ext 2510

Coun. June Hofland                    june.holfland@guelph.ca                519 822 1260 Ext 2505

WARD 4

Coun. Christine Billings            christine.billings@guelph.ca            519 826 0567

Coun. Mike Salisbury                mike.salisbury@guelph.ca                 519 822 1260 Ext 2512

WARD 5

Coun. Leanne Piper                   leanne.piper@guelph.ca                    519 822 1260 Ext 2295

Coun. Cathy Downer                 cathy.downer@guelph.ca                  519 822 1260 Ext 2294

WARD 6

Coun. Mark MacKinnon            mark.mackinnon@guelph.ca            519 822 1260 Ext 2296

Coun. Karl Wettstein                        karl.wettstein@guelph.ca            519 763 5105

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Filed under Between the Lines

How Mayor Cam Guthrie allowed huge salary increases to senior managers

By Gerry Barker

May 9, 2016

Breaking News: See details at the end of this post

It is now evident that there was a cover-up in November 2014 when CAO Ann Pappert and three executive directors were part of a reorganization of the senior management structure of the City of Guelph.

It was hatched behind closed doors by the defeated administration in its last days in office and approved before December 1, 2014, when Mayor Guthrie’s administration opened shop.

CAO Pappert announced that the executive director system of senior management would be replaced with three new Deputy Chief Administration officers, Mark Amorosi, Al Horsman and Derrick Thomson. Each was given a $6,000 salary increase.

Now this major reorganization had to be approved by council, the one that the voters had defeated just weeks before. Sitting on that council in November was Coun. Cam Guthrie now Mayor-elect Guthrie.

It is odd that in view of his position as chairman of the audit committee in the Farbridge administration, that he did not demand what was the urgency to make these changes even before his new administration took control December 1st? He was silent on the subject.

CAO Pappert said the planning for the reorganization started before the civic election was held. Why, one might ask? Because it was the beginning of a plan to increase the salaries of four senior managers, once the reorganization plan was adopted by the outgoing Farbridge administration.

It had to be done before December 1st, when the Guthrie administration took over.

Did the incoming Mayor know and vote for the senior management reorganization? As a member of the council he helped defeat, it appears logical that he was aware and voted for the change before he officially took office. We’ll probably never know the truth because of the Farbridge closed-session management system.

The bottom line is that major management change had to be approved by council before Mayor elect Guthrie took office.

The five executive director staff positions were replaced. Leaving the city was Environmental Services chief, Janet Laird who retired. Operations director Derek McCaughan left with no explanation offered to the public. New DCAO Chief Financial Officer, Al Horsman, was shifted to Environmental Services, engineering and planning; DCAO Human Resources director Mark Amorosi, Corporate Services, added responsibility of all finances and personnel; DCAO Derrick Thomson took over Operations.

This is what the new mayor inherited and he accepted it without a whimper.

That is the first part of the plot. In February 2015, the blog guelphspeaks.ca revealed that secret talks were being held with CAO Pappert concerning her contract.

Stage One, the Mayor attacks the editor of GuelphSpeaks

The Mayor went ballistic and the witch-hunt was on to find out who leaked it because there were closed-session discussions by members of council. FYI, this is a hangover from the Farbridge administration that locked up closed-session discussions. There was the threat of discipline by the Integrity Commissioner if councillors leaked details of closed-door discussions.

It is a practice that suffocates public interest, opening the door to unbridled corruption, preventing openness and transparency of government.

The practice continues to this day despite the Open and Transparent Initiative Plan that is a Farbridge initiated head fake in order to to maintain secrecy of operations. It was all about perception not actuality.

Did I mention that so far it has cost more than $856,000, including $500,000 to a Toronto Consultant to develop the plan. Plus $92,000 to Farbridge supporter, Andy Best, hired last June by the city to be General Manager of the Open and Transparent Initiative Plan. Add in $264,000 in the 2016 budget to fund the plan. This has to be the sickest joke in the history of city governance.

Mayor Guthrie was so angry over the so-called leak that he sent out an email to an undisclosed group of recipients. Here is a copy of this email from Guthrie exactly as published. It is not known who the recipients were.

From the email entitled – Confidential – Not for blogging

Hello,

I am writing to you all regarding our first interaction as this council with the writer of the Guelph Speaks blog, Gerry Barker.

The post in question is here: https://guelphspeaks.wordpress.com/2015/02/04/how-ann-pappert-has-transformed-from-a-puppet-to-a-dictator/#comments

Ann is our only employee. She cannot “stick up” for herself in public. Yet we can.

It is my advice that we shouldn’t contact or respond in any public way to this man or his post. When that has occurred in the past, it goes horribly sideways and only draws attention to what he writes. It gives him a spotlight and that’s the last thing anyone wants.

I am asking our HR department to look into this blog, and then to advise me of any action we can take as her employer, to protect her reputation. Preliminary advice from HR has been in agreement to mine, that we ignore.

I will not tolerate this whatsoever as mayor. These blogs distract us all and in-turn takes our collective focus off of helping this city.

I would be extremely upset if I found out any member of this council is in communication with a person who sole purpose is to belittle and disparage our CAO and our staff.

I will keep you informed of this issue and I’m willing to talk further in person about this if need be.

Thank you,

Cam

*            *            *            *

Cam: is this a criticism?

Now that the details of the great salary cover-up outed 14 months later, why was Mayor Guthrie so concerned about the secret salary negotiations with the CAO and her DCAO’s not revealed? Think about it. Nobody outside that closed-session meeting awarding the increases knew what was going on, or worse, what happened.

Imagine if those huge salary increases had been made public before the 2015 budget was struck in March? The action of the Mayor and those councillors who approved the increases is a dereliction of their sworn duty to protect and maintain their fiduciary responsibilities. This was a large-scale deception that not one elected member of council or staff broke the code of silence since February 2015.

It was the provincial Sunshine List of those public employees earning more than $100,000, published 14 months later, that the increases were revealed. By that time, the CAO and DCAO’s had received the money.

Yet not one peep from any elected official about this including the mayor, who now describes himself as Chief Executive Officer of the Corporation of the City of Guelph and Chairman of the board of Guelph Municipal Holdings Inc.

It only goes to show, once again, that getting elected is one thing, managing your fiduciary responsibilities in a manner that represents the people who elected you, is quite another.

Stage Two, Mayor Guthrie goes berserk, again

Recently, Guelph citizen, Rena Akerman, circulated a detailed critical analysis of the five-year performance of CAO Ann Pappert to Guelph citizens. (Details may be viewed in the guelphspeaks.ca archives.)

Once again, Mayor Guthrie responded sending her a letter threatening legal action and to immediately apologize to Ms. Pappert. Ms. Akerman replied that she would not and stood by her analysis.

Between the response to the Akerman email and guelphspeaks.ca post, repeating her Pappert performance data, many thousands of residents have read the content. The email and GS post combined have gone viral.

At this point in your term Mayor Guthrie, most people rate you as a D: Deaf, Dumb and Deceptive. Deaf to the legitimate concerns of the people; Dumb to threaten citizens who object to your administion and its shaky record; Deceptive in failing to provide an open and transparent administration. Informing people is part of the job and that includes timely senior staff salary details.

The Orange Crush Seven are always addressing the issue of Integrity. I doubt few understand the word let alone pronounce it. If they did, they would end their obstructive tactics that have created the most dysfunctional council in recent memory.

The Mayor seems immune to standing up to the Orange Crush council majority that has made him look incompetent, unsure and afraid. That’s exactly what the Orange Crush supporters are salivating over. Why doesn’t he see it?

It is astonishing that he takes the side of the senior management staff and disparages citizens who object to the actions of his administration.

There are some on city council that are using the office to which they have been elected, as a stepping stone to greater government positions. These councillors have already abandoned their constituents by using bloc-voting to achieve personal goals and the misguided agenda of a lost administration.

Is Mayor Guthrie beyond redemption? Best guess is probably. But some anger management counselling might help.

Mayor Guthrie is too dependent on a senior management staff appointed by his predecessor to function as the elected leader of the city.

Now that the salary increases are public, he fails to see the effect of deliberate deception or cover-up in which he participated as Mayor of Guelph and allowed it to occur.

The people get it. It might be a good idea to apologize, Mayor Guthrie for allowing this to occur.

A final financial note.

Since DCAO Mark Amorosi took over the financial management of the city, the former Chief Financial Officer (CFO), Al Horsman, was moved to Environmental Services and left the city last August for the position of CAO of Sault Ste Marie. Two Amorosi hires to be general manager of Finance and Treasurer have left the city. Janice Sheehy the latest holder of the office left in March to a job with Peel Region. Guelph has been without a CFO since November 2014.

What does this say about competent financial management?

Breaking News! Latest development on the CAO salary increase

It was revealed today the details of two, closed-session meetings of city council to discuss the contract of Chief Administrative Officer, Ann Pappert.

According to the official agenda of the October 13. 2015, a closed-session meeting reviewed the performance of the CAO. The process went like this: Each member of council rated the performance of the CAO. The outside consultant received the councillor’s ratings and prepared a consolidated report.

The consultant reported that the aggregate score did not qualify the CAO for an annual salary raise because it was less than required.

Apparently, there was additional discussion by councilors that ranged from the boring to the ridiculous. These included that the CAO should be treated to an increase “out of respect” and “fairness” and “perhaps we were too tough on her.”

Disregarding the consultant’s advice, the majority of council voted to give her the $37,591 increase making her the highest paid CAO in the group of similar sized Ontario cities.

It is troubling that the identity of those councillors voting for the CAO salary increase is never revealed because of the ridiculous closed-session rules.

The CAO was not present at the October 13 meering. How about this for irony? On November 9, the meeting to determine the 2016 budget, during another closed-session before the regular meeting, the CAO was informed of her failing score but agreed to take the increase any way!

Question: Is this raise retroactive to January 2015? It now apparent that the CAO salary increase was not included in the 2015 budget, struck March 25, 2015. Is her increase part of the now approved 2016 budget?

With all this going on without the public’s knowledge, it represents a total display of a majority of council ignoring their own opinions and the consultant’s advice. Instead, emotion prevailed to award a record salary increase to the senior employee. A decision that they themselves, voting secretly, previously failed to approve an increase.

This is yet another example of the dysfunction of our elected council to make rational decisions reflecting the will of the people.

These closed-sessions must be arrested and only held under strict guidelines.

Right now the public interests are not being served.

But Ms. Pappert still took the money.

More Breaking News!

In yet another closed-session of council tonight May 9, the matter of correspondence regarding city staff will be reviewed. This follows the threat of legal action by Mayor Cam Guthrie against Rena Akerman for emailing a critique of the CAO’s five-year performance. Based on the individual assessments of the CAO’s job by councillors, it now appears, Ms. Akerman’s information was accurate.

 

 

 

 

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More on the senior staff’s sneak attacks on the public’s trust and purse

By Gerry Barker

Posted April 11, 2016

There were two events happening within three months following the 2014 civic election, all discussed in closed sessions. The first was the senior staff reorganization that converted five executive director jobs into three Deputy Chief Administrative Officers (DCAO), Mark Amorosi, Derrick Thomson and Al Horsman. This happened in November 2014, on the heels of the retirement of Janet Laird and Derek McCaughan.

It occurred during the final days of the Farbridge administration and before the new council was even sworn in.

Part of that reorganization came with a $6,361 pay increase for the remaining three senior managers taking Mark Amorosi’s annual salary to some $182,761. Chief Administrative Officer (CAO), Ann Pappert, stood pat at $219,657.

At that point, the salary spread between the CAO and DCAO’s was $36,896. But then when the new salaries were awarded prior to the finalization of the 2015 budget, again in closed session far from the public eye, that spread grew to $47,619.

So the spread between the CAO’s salary and that of Mark Amorosi increased by $10,723. Amorosi said council based on Pappert’s performance, approved the 17.11 per cent increase for his boss. The DCAO went on to say: “There was a significant retro payment because in the past year of the last term there was no notification to human resources to process any increase.”

Hey! I can’t make this stuff up. Is Amorosi saying that the “retro” payment was made on the basis that Pappet did not ask for one in 2014? Regardless of that fatuous explanation, Pappert received a $37,591 increase two months later.

The dereliction of responsibility here, rests with those four executive managers who helped themselves to the public treasury, conned the majority of council to approve them in closed session, and buried the result for a year.

That self-serving manipulation ranks right up there with the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbour December 7, 1941, described by President Franklin Roosevelt, as a “Day in Infamy.”

This is a management team that uses your money mostly in closed meetings, to deflect criticism of their actions.

Two examples stick out. First, Public funds were used to discredit a candidate in the 2014 election. Farbridge supporter, Susan Watson, accused Glen Tolhurst for accepting a $400 donation from the citizen’s activist organization, GrassRoots Guelph (GRG). The Election Compliance Committee, appointed by the previous administration, agreed to request an audit of Mr. Tolhurst’s election expenses report. The outside auditor hired by City Clerk Stephen O’Brien, stated that GRG had the right to donate money to candidates under the Ontario Municipal Elections Act.

That frivolous complaint cost the taxpayers $11,400 and Watson did not pay for it. We did.

The second misuse of public funds occurred when a resident of the city complained to council about the walkout of five councillors from a closed meeting, forcing cancellation of the public council meeting for lack of a quorum.

The city clerk engaged the services of the Local Authority Services (LAS), a partner with the Frank Cowan Company, one of the largest risk management organizations in the country.

So, you may ask, why did the administration hire this firm to investigate and advise on the walkout of the five councillors, January 25? Whose risk was at stake here?

It could not have been done to support the citizen who complained. Certainly the city, (read that the clerk), wasn’t at risk or why would he have hired LAS in the first place? No, it was to mitigate the risk taken by the five councillors who walked out of a closed meeting.

So, more of your money is being used by the administration to protect five councillors. They walked away from a closed meeting on the grounds they were protecting the integrity of the corporation and the staff, according to Walker Coun. Phil Allt.

The report by LAS stated that the five councillors did not breach the closed session section of the OMA and there was no evidence to recommend action against them. Are you not surprised at this outcome? And. Mr. O’Brien, how much did this cost the taxpayers?

This is the same administration, led by CAO Ann Pappert that has made little attempt to curb costs. It’s the same leadership that has allowed negative variances in the annual financial report every year for the past three years.

The Municipal Act says a municipality cannot carry a budgetary loss but must have a balanced budget. So every year, they raid the reserves to balance the books.

Ms. Pappert heads an administration that is deceptive, arrogant, and careless and ducks responsibility managing our money.

Let me ask you; is the CAO deserving of a performance increase of $37,591 for 2015? Too late, she already got the money.

Indeed, hiding these large senior manager salaries for more than a year is our day in infamy. More to the point, not one person, staff or council, revealed those inceases approved in the March 25 closed session wrapping up the 2015 budget.

Only the people can change it. Now is a good time to start the process by letting your ward councillors know that there has to be a stop to this obstructionism to reform city operations.

We have already experienced administration failure.

Now it’s our turn to tell them to manage responsibly or leave.

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